Diego Costa grabbed his tenth goal of the season as Chelsea maintained momentum at the top of the Premier League standings with a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield.
Summer signing Emre Can opened his Liverpool account with a long-range drive within the opening ten minutes of kickoff but Garry Cahill drew Chelsea level few minutes later, all thanks to the efficacy of the goal-line technology.
Mario Balotelli thought he had scored his first league goal since joining the ‘Kops’ after sinking in a superb low finish, only for his effort to be passed for offside.
Costa, who was man marked by Liverpool defenders for over an hour of the encounter, eventually needed just a touch to rifle home his tenth goal of the season, therefore becoming the second fastest player to accrue the same number of goals in few appearances after Mick Quinn- who scored ten in six matches.
The win saw Chelsea extend their lead over second-placed Southampton, who are at home to Leicester City as at time of report, by seven points as Liverpool now trail the Blues by 15 points.
The last time the Blues traveled to Merseyside, Liverpool were five points at the summit of the league table with three matches to go. But Steven Gerrard’s uncanny slip continues to hurt the memory in what has become an unlikely reference point to a battle stretched past redemption following subsequent 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace as Manchester City nipped it at the tail end.
And as Jose Mourinho had said in his pre-match briefing, Liverpool had every chance to redeem their status after such painful ordeal. With the return of big name players like Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli, Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Glen Johnson, all who were controversially spared from flexing muscles in the narrow Champions League defeat by Real Madrid in midweek, the hosts looked lively right from the blast of the whistle.
The initial 15 minutes of matches involving Chelsea has been rather crucial so far this season, however; it was the hosts who took a deserved early lead after nine minutes as Chelsea refused to heed to warning signals.
Can had a long-range shot deflected over by captain John Terry in the first minute, and when he got a second opportunity from similar distance moments later, the ball was deflected off Cahill’s shoulder into the net.
Liverpool’s joy lasted for five minutes before Chelsea drew level with the aid of those numerous cameras peering through the net from various angles.
Simon Mignolet parried Terry’s header following Costa’s flick-on from a corner, and –though- the Liverpool stopper grabbed Cahill’s follow-up, the goal-line technology confirmed that the ball had crossed the line.
Chelsea finished the first-half strongly and were indebted to Thibaut Courtois reflex either side of the break, with the Belgian getting down sharply to repel Coutinho’s low drive and Sterling’s fizzing effort respectively.
Costa eventually topped the tough physical battle between him and Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel in the 67th minute. After eluding Coutinho on the Chelsea left, Cesar Azpilicueta shot was pushed out by Mignolet, but the rebound landed at the foot of the Spanish assassin who rifled home a half-volley from close range.